On Tuesday afternoon at around 12:30 p.m., a man in his 80’s choked while eating falafel outside a shop on Chaim Ozer street in Petach Tikvah.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Neria Cohen had just checked out of the store right next to the falafel place at the time of the incident. As he was crossing the street and walking towards his car in the parking lot, he heard desperate cries for help. Neria found a crowd gathering where he had just been mere moments earlier. Neria called United Hatzalah’s dispatch center and requested backup.
A local paramedic also happened to be passing by at the same time and rushed over to help. He started performing the Heimlich Maneuver in order to force out the piece of food that was lodged in the man’s throat. He had no success. The piece was not coming out.
By then, the elderly man was unconscious due to a lack of oxygen and lost his pulse. Neria and the paramedic lay the patient flat down on the ground. The paramedic started chest compressions as Neria ran across the street to his car and brought back his United Hatzalah medical kit and raced back to join the paramedic and switch him out from doing compressions.
Other United Hatzalah volunteers arrived at the scene and joined the CPR efforts. An IV line was started and medications and fluids were administered to the patient. They tried using a manual respirator but it wasn’t working so efficiently because the piece of food was still lodged deep into the man’s lungs.
After 20 minutes of CPR, the intensive care ambulance arrived and the arriving paramedic took charge. He inserted an Intracanal tube to ventilate and they were able to successfully remove the piece of food. After another five minutes, the man’s pulse returned and he was transferred onto a backboard to be placed into the ambulance for transport. They continued to provide assisted breathing to the patient as he was brought to the Beilinson medical center in Petach Tikvah for further care.
After the incident, Neria said, “The man was really lucky that there were two trained medical responders right near him. It’s crazy that both the paramedic and I were so close and just happened to be passing by the very moment he choked. Furthermore, I had my medical kit on hand so the patient didn’t go very long without oxygen, which was a real help. Without the medical equipment, we can assume that his chances of survival would have been much slimmer, and the outcome could have been much different. Everything happened very quickly, but one thing I can say for sure is that this man was very lucky today.”
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